Hydrogen-fueled airplane lands, makes home in Mojave

The Mojave Air & Space Port has found a renewable-energy tenant that appears to fit neatly within the facility’s history of aerospace innovation. Hawthorne-based Universal Hydrogen Co. uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to help power a modified 40-passenger regional airliner. It recently put the concept to work in flying one it calls “Lightning McClean” south from Moses Lake, Wash. An announcement Friday that the company will move flight tests of its zero-emission drivetrain technology to eastern Kern is expected to boost Mojave’s reputation as a place where aviation feats never before achieved are able to take wing.

“Bringing Universal Hydrogen to the Mojave Air & Space Port is a big win for us and the local community,” the air and space port’s general manager, Tim Reid, said in a news release heralding the company’s arrival in Mojave.

“With their research and development,” he added, “Universal Hydrogen’s technology will be a total game changer for zero emissions flight within the next decade, meeting the environmental goals of California while advancing the industry with a new, sustainable energy source.”

The company said its De Havilland Canada DHC-8 airliner is powered on one side by a renewable-hydrogen fuel powertrain. During the first four legs of the 800-mile trip from Washington, the fuel cell was throttled down after takeoff. But on the final portion, hydrogen was used for the duration of the more than one-hour flight, marking “the longest flight by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain to date.” Universal Hydrogen plans to launch commercial service by late 2025. Along with that, it has a goal of certifying a powertrain conversion kit for retrofitting existing regional aircraft to fly on hydrogen fuel. Its idea is to transport renewable hydrogen from production sites by putting it in modular capsules and moving it along existing freight networks.

Earlier this year the company notched an initial, successful flight test. It was followed by four additional tests. During its second test flight, Universal Hydrogen reported, its aircraft flew for 30 minutes at 170 knots, reaching an altitude of 5,000 feet. Then, on June 12, the company said it reached 10,000 feet. The company’s news release Friday said moving its flight testing regimen to Mojave “will allow the company to take advantage of a strong engineering talent pool in Mojave as well as nearby Los Angeles.” Universal Hydrogen has been awarded a $5 million development grant from the California Office of Business Development.

Aviation is seen as one of the toughest industries to decarbonize. But in the company’s news release, California Energy Commission Chairman David Hochschild expressed hope, stating that Universal Hydrogen “is proving that true zero emission is achievable” using hydrogen as airplane fuel.

Plus, he said it’s good for the local economy.

“Basing their test flight operations in Mojave will supercharge a site of significant aviation and space history, and create good-paying jobs for Californians as we ramp up our efforts to combat climate change,” Hochschild stated.

The Mojave Air & Space Port opened in 1935 and has since established itself as a hub of aviation innovation. In 1986, the Rutan Model 76 Voyager became the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping to refuel after taking off from the facility. Among other success stories originating there was that of SpaceShipOne, a pioneering craft whose launch from the port in 2004 was seen as an important step toward privately funded human spaceflight.


Electric truck stop near Bakersfield gearing up for 31 chargers by January

Kern County’s first all-electric truck stop is on track to open 31 charging stations this year — about half of them to be powered by solar panels on-site, the head of the Long Beach company behind the project announced Thursday. WattEV founder and CEO Salim Youssefzadeh said the 110-acre site 2 miles north of Merle Haggard Drive along Highway 65 will be one of four charging stations operational by the end of this year in Bakersfield, Gardena, Long Beach and San Bernardino. The one along Highway 65 is expected to be the largest, with the most charging capacity, because of the availability of surrounding land. WattEV expects to open more stations next year along Highway 65 and Interstate 5, extending the company’s reach as far north as Sacramento.

Funded mostly by private investment but subsidized by about $60 million in state and federal grants, the project serves California’s goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 while also cutting a primary source of particulate air pollution in the Central Valley. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has voiced support for the project, saying in 2021 it “recognizes the importance of zero and near zero transportation projects in the valley and the potential for battery electric medium and heavy-duty trucks to create significant reductions in criteria air pollutant emissions.”

The company aims to deliver more than just battery-charging services: Its all-inclusive, trucking-as-a-service business model is designed to reduce carriers’ financial risk by setting a monthly rate for providing and refueling delivery trucks. Youssefzadeh said WattEV has purchased 14 Nikola electric trucks and has 87 Volvos on order to serve customers by January. Trucks not owned by WattEV will also be able to charge up at the station.

How fast the company scales up will be determined on demand for its services, he said — and things look good so far, given distribution centers’ and trucking companies’ environmental and sustainability targets.

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of demand and interest, shippers as well as the carriers,” Youssefzadeh said.

They’re interested in the technology, “but they don’t necessarily want to deal with the unknowns, for the upfront costs of the infrastructure or the truck.”

WattEV expects to offer a kind of valet service at some of its stations: Drivers would drive to the truck stop in their own car, get into a fully charged rig parked at the site, then return later to drop it off for the night and drive home in their own car. The site along Highway 65 is planned to open with 5 megawatts of solar served by a 2-megawatt-hour battery storage system, Youssefzadeh said. Initially, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will provide the property 640 kilowatts of power, to be upgraded to 7 megawatts. Eventually the property will generate and use 25 megawatts of solar power, he said. By year’s end, he said, there are to be 16 360-kilowatt chargers served by PG&E, and 15 240-kilowatt chargers powered by on-site solar. Charging a truck will initially take between two and three hours, he said, until the facility becomes certified on a megawatt-charger, when trucks can be fully charged in 30 minutes.

Next year’s infrastructure expansion is expected to bring more charging sites to Kern County and elsewhere around the valley. Youssefzadeh said additional stations will be added later to serve trucks traveling along Interstate 10 as far as Arizona and Mexico


‘A win for the entire region.’ Merced County awarded $49.6 million for Castle rail project

Merced County’s Castle Commerce Center is about to receive a huge boost in the form of a $49.6 million grant to build out an inland port that will improve its capacity to move freight worldwide. The California State Transportation Agency announced Merced County was awarded the grant on Thursday. “This will directly support our agricultural producers and manufacturers throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott Silveira.

“This is a win for the entire region,” Silveira added. “From local agricultural producers to major manufacturers throughout the Valley, being able to transport goods in a quick and efficient manner is absolutely critical. This grant will position us to drive our economy in the right direction.” In January 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $1.2 billion for port and freight infrastructure to support the state’s goods movement networks, which have been hurt by global disruptions and increased port congestion in recent years. The grant will help the state develop a more efficient, sustainable and resilient goods movement system.

Castle’s rail district became operational in May 2022 under Patriot Rail, which operates the rail line and has already tripled the shipping volume to and from Castle in recent months, according to Merced County spokesperson Mike North. The grant will help area farmers, manufacturers and other businesses to ship and receive goods throughout the San Joaquin Valley cost effectively. “Castle’s inland port and rail activities is focused on increasing regional economic opportunities while reducing semi-truck traffic along our roadways,” North said. The $49.6 million grant will enhance Castle Commerce Center’s existing rail capacity by: Facilitating the development of 70 acres at Castle to support pre-shipment processing and intermodal cross-docking for Central Valley agricultural producers. Providing cost-effective, direct rail service for shippers. Expanding the railway to a new staging and container laydown area to support cross-docking and processing. Evaluating, engineering and planning for further expansion on existing land within Castle Commerce Center. Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose District 3 includes Castle Commerce Center, said the inland port and rail district has been in the works for many years and is a major focal point for the county.

“This is a prime example of government facilitating an environment where the private sector can thrive,” McDaniel said. The Merced County inland port will support additional goods movement to and from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Oakland while making Merced County a focal point for inland goods movement. The rail district expansion project is expected to be complete by mid-2028. “With all that has been accomplished to date and coupled with this sizable state investment, Castle is proving to be the leading economic development site in California,” said Assistant Merced County Executive Officer Mark Hendrickson.


State of Calif. Announces $1.5B in Port Infrastructure Upgrades (UPDATED July 11)

The State of California on July 6 announced an investment of more than $1.5 billion—including approximately $450 million for zero-emission infrastructure, locomotives, vessels and vehicles—as part of the state’s work to build a more “efficient, sustainable and resilient supply chain.”

According to the State of California, the $1.2 billion will fund 15 projects creating an estimated 20,000 jobs and “increase the capacity to move goods throughout the state’s global trade gateways while lessening environmental impacts on neighboring communities.” Administered by the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), $350 million was also awarded to 13 projects that eliminate street-level rail crossings to make “critical lifesaving safety improvements, reduce emissions and keep goods and people moving.”

Projects receiving funding will help boost capacity to move goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—the busiest ports in the Western Hemisphere—as well as enhance all major trade centers throughout the state—from San Diego to the Central Valley to the Bay Area. The high-priority grade separation projects, the majority of which are funded through the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, will improve safety and reduce conflicts and delays at railroad crossings, helping enhance the state’s freight and passenger rail systems, the State of California said.

The funding—particularly the investments in zero-emission projects, which account for nearly 40 % of the Port and Freight Infrastructure Program awards—builds on a partnership between the governments of California and Japan announced this March to collaborate on strategies to “cut planet-warming pollution at seaports and establish green shipping corridors as part of the state’s broader strategy to aggressively combat and adapt to climate change.”

The investments, the State of California says, also follow the California Transportation Commission’s (CTC) recent approval of $1.1 billion for infrastructure improvements on high-volume freight corridors as part of the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP)—for a total state investment in supply chain infrastructure of more than $2.6 billion in just the past week.

Part of the funding includes a $383.35 million grant awarded to the Port of Long Beach to complete a series of construction and clean-air technology projects aimed at accelerating the transformation to zero-emissions operations and enhancing the reliability of cargo movement.

As part of the state’s Port and Freight Infrastructure Program, nearly $225 million will fund a variety of zero-emissions cargo-moving equipment and supportive infrastructure projects across the Port of Long Beach and include “top handlers” and other manually operated cargo-handling equipment, as well as tugboats and locomotives. The sum is the single largest grant the Port has ever received to support the zero-emissions goals of the 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update.

Additionally, $158.4 million of the state grant will go toward the planned Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which will shift more cargo from trucks to on-dock rail, where containers are taken to and from marine terminals by trains. The $1.57 billion facility will be built in phases, with construction scheduled to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2032.

As part of its Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), the Port of Long Beach has set a goal of zero-emissions terminal operations by 2030, and zero-emissions trucking by 2035. The Port has a long track record of air quality improvement projects that have “dramatically lowered” emissions since 2005.

Additionally, the Port of Los Angeles has been awarded $233 million in grants from the State of California to complete essential infrastructure projects aimed at creating a more efficient and sustainable supply chain.

Port of Los Angeles infrastructure projects supported by the new state grants include:

  • Maritime Support Facility (MSF) Improvement and Expansion Project—The MSF provides chassis and empty container storage for all 12 container terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, critical to facilitating goods movement throughout the complex. With this new funding, the area will be improved and expanded from 30 to 71 acres. Improvements will include utilities, drainage, sewage, power, water supply, as well as a paved perimeter roadway. The $198.2 million total project amount includes $149.3 million from CalSTA and $48.4 million in matching funds from the Port of Los Angeles.
  • Rail Mainline/Wilmington Community & Waterfront Pedestrian Grade Separation Bridge—In addition to demolition work and soil remediation, the project involves construction of a 400-foot dedicated pedestrian bridge over freight tracks, creating a safer connection between the Wilmington community, several local area schools and the Port of Los Angeles’ Wilmington Waterfront area. The project will also include construction of retaining walls, storm drainage, electrical and utilities, sidewalks and landscaping. The total project cost of $57.9 million includes $42 million from CalSTA, $5.62 million from the Port of Los Angeles and $10.2 million from LA Metro.
  • State Route 47/Seaside Avenue and Navy Way Interchange Improvements—This project will modify the intersection of Navy Way and Seaside Avenue to improve traffic operations, reduce collisions and improve safety. Improvements will add a new westbound auxiliary lane, a new eastbound two-lane collector-distributor road, a new off-ramp terminus and eliminate a traffic signal, among other upgrades. Total project cost of $62.98 million includes $41.79 million from CalSTA and $21.19 million in Port of Los Angeles funds.

Last week the Port of Los Angeles received a $15 million grant from the CTC for a four-lane grade separation on Terminal Island that will reduce truck delays and improve public safety.

Of the $1.5 billion awarded by CalSTA, approximately $250 million is allocated for zero-emission infrastructure, locomotives, vehicles and vessels.

Southern California regional projects totaling $191 million were among the grants announced. These include a $100 million BNSF rail expansion project in the High Desert and another $76.3 million zero-emission rail and drayage fleet support project by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, among others. These projects support the Port of Los Angeles by improving cargo movement throughout the region.

Additionally, Merced County has been awarded a $49.6 million grant—one of the largest in the history of Merced County and San Joaquin Valley—from CalSTA to build-out an inland port at Castle Commerce Center, “leveraging its unique capacity to move freight worldwide.”

The $49.6 million CalSTA grant will enhance Castle Commerce Center’s existing rail capacity by:

  • Facilitating the development of 70 acres at Castle to support pre-shipment processing and intermodal cross-docking for Central Valley agricultural producers.
  • Providing cost-effective, direct rail service for shippers.
  • Expanding the railway to a new staging and container laydown area to support cross-docking and processing.
  • Evaluating, engineering, and planning for further expansion on existing land within Castle Commerce Center.

These projects, Merced County says, will support additional goods movement to and from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, and the Port of Oakland while making the County a focal point for inland goods movement.

Situated at the southeastern corner of Castle, its rail district became operational in May 2022 under Patriot Rail, which operates the rail line and has already tripled the shipping volume to and from Castle in recent months. The CalSTA grant, Merced County says, will “further enhance the viability of agricultural producers, manufacturers, and other enterprises throughout the San Joaquin Valley to cost-effectively and efficiently ship and receive goods along the BNSF railroad mainline, which runs adjacent to the site.” Castle’s inland port and rail activities is focused on increasing regional economic opportunities while reducing semi-truck traffic along its roadways.

“Patriot Rail is privileged to partner with Merced County to advance the rail foundation of an inland port at the Castle Commerce Center,” said Patriot Rail CEO John E. Fenton.

The rail district expansion project is expected to be complete by mid-2028.

Meanwhile, the Port of Stockton was awarded $45.9 million for the Rail Infrastructure Improvements for Sustainable Exports (RISE) Project through CalSTA’s Port and Freight Infrastructure Program (PFIP).

The RIISE project supports building new infrastructure to enhance rail capacity, accommodate increased freight tonnage and train frequencies, mitigate potential service disruptions, and reduce long-term repair and maintenance costs. PFIP will fund the replacement of the San Joaquin River rail bridge; expansion of the port’s long lead track to two tracks; and procurement of a zero-emission electric railcar mover.

The project will help reduce trucks traversing neighborhood streets, consistent with the priorities of near-port communities and the Stockton AB 617 Community Steering Committee, reducing public health harms and negative environmental and economic impacts.

“No other state has a supply chain as critical to the national and global economy as California,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “These investments—unprecedented in scope and scale—will modernize our ports, reduce pollution, eliminate bottlenecks and create a more dynamic distribution network.”

“CalSTA’s ‘Core Four’ priorities are safety, climate action, equity and economic prosperity, and the strategic investments announced today shine in all those areas,” said Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin during an event on July 6 announcing the awards at the Port of Long Beach. “These awards—a direct result of Governor Newsom’s visionary leadership—will help maintain our state’s competitive edge in our nation-leading supply chain infrastructure and will create a cleaner, safer and more efficient goods movement system that will have a lasting positive impact for the people of California. The historic level of state funding also puts these projects in a stronger position to compete for significant federal infrastructure dollars from the Biden-Harris Administration.”



The Ugly Company: Saving ugly produce and creating a local business

Ben Moore’s mom affectionately nicknamed him “Big Ugly,” but that nickname came well before his business The Ugly Company.

The Ugly Company saves unsellable fruit from being tossed out and repurposes it into dried fruit snacks. Last year The Ugly Company saved and repurposed nearly 2.1 million pounds of food waste.

Moore and his Chief Brand Officer Matt Gorells joined the show with some samples of their ugly fruit and what their plans are for the future.


California’s Best City to Invest in Rental Housing? It’s Madera

California rental housing investment returns may lag behind the rest of the country, but Central Valley cities have the biggest gains in the state. Zillow data show rent in Madera will pay back a 20% down payment — the typical amount needed for a rental property — faster than anywhere else in the state. Real estate website Agent Advice compiled the data.

Three Years to Get a Down Payment Back in Madera

At an average rent of $2,195 a month, .57% of the average home value, it only takes 36 months to pay off the down payment, four months shorter than the national average of 40 months. The state average to pay back a down payment is 50 months, due in large part to very high average property values, the report stated.

Hanford, Visalia, Fresno, and Bakersfield round out the top five, in that order.

Madera’s year-over-year rental rate increases far outpace the other four cities. Zillow’s rent index — which includes apartments — shows rents growing 17.4% to $1,997 a month in May. Rent hikes in the other four cities hovered around 5%.

  • Hanford 5.8% to $1,774
  • Visalia 5.1% to $1,720
  • Fresno 5.1% to $2,005
  • Bakersfield 4.7% to $1,754

Madera Population Growth Modest, Bakersfield Trends Fastest

Population growth in Madera falls behind other cities in the ranking. Of the top five, Bakersfield has undergone the biggest population boom over the past five years, growing 6.15% to 408,373 as of Jan. 1, according to the California Department of Finance. Madera only grew 1.7% to 65,540 people. Visalia has grown 5.37%, with a population of 143,031 people.

For landlords competing with housing affordability, Madera County has one of the highest housing affordability ratings in the Central Valley. Approximately 54% of households can afford an entry-level home in the county, according to the California Association of Realtors. Tulare and Kings counties have slightly higher shares with 55% of households able to afford an entry-level home.

The state affordability average is 36%.


The 10 best U.S. cities for new college grads based on job prospects, average income and more

The class of 2023 has made it pretty clear that they are ready and willing to move for job opportunities — and the destination doesn’t have to be a metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. Zillow revealed exclusively to CNBC Make it, the marketplace’s 2023 ranking of the best places in the U.S. for recent college graduates.

The study analyzed the cities based on the following factors:
  • Rent-to-income ratio
  • Average salary for recent college graduates
  • Job openings
  • Share of the population in their 20s

“Navigating rent affordability can pose challenges for recent graduates entering the housing market, especially if they are doing it for the first time,” Nicole Bachaud, Zillow senior economist, tells CNBC Make It.

“It is important for these graduates to remain mindful of impending student loan repayments that will soon come into play, which will factor into the budgets of many and may impact housing decisions.”

Zillow’s report found that the second-largest markets across the U.S. can offer college graduates a higher quality of life and an accessible cost of living.

Top 10 best U.S. cities for recent college graduates
  1. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  2. Spokane, Wash.
  3. Des Moines, Iowa
  4. Phoenix, Ariz.
  5. Buffalo, Ariz.
  6. Albuquerque, N.M.
  7. Bakersfield, Calif.
  8. Albany, N.Y.
  9. Portland, Ore.
  10. Little Rock, Ark.

Colorado Springs, Colorado, ranked no. 1 on Zillow’s list of the best U.S. cities for recent college graduates. The Zillow Observed Rent Index found that the average rent in the Colorado city is $1,824, compared to $2,031 in Denver, about 90 minutes away. The study found that the average salary for a recent college grad in Colorado Springs is $63,190—which means the rent ratio is 35%. Colorado Springs is home to the University of Colorado: Colorado Springs, and Colorado College, both places that offer employment opportunities to their own recent grads and graduates of nearby colleges like Pikes Peak Community College.

Spokane, Washington, ranks second on the list. The average rent in Spokane is $1,563, compared to Seattle, where it’s $2,223, according to Zillow. And the average salary in the city is $61,162 making the rent-to-income ratio 31%. Like Colorado Springs, Spokane, Washington, is the second-largest city in its state. During the pandemic Spokane saw a rise in remote job postings and has been able to maintain that rate, specifically in areas of technical services, health care, social assistance, finance and insurance.

Rounding out the top three is Des Moines, Iowa. The city is a hub for recent college grads looking to get into the insurance and financial services sector. Some major companies with a significant presence in Des Moines include Wells Fargo and UPS. According to Zillow, the typical rent is $1,202, while the average salary for recent college grads is $59,697. The rent-to-income ratio in Des Moines is 24%, which is less than a quarter of the average salary for 2023 college graduates, $59,600, according to The National Center for Education Statistics. “With strong job growth and affordable rents, Des Moines becomes an attractive city for recent grads to build their careers and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle,” Emily McDonald, Zillow rental trends expert, tells CNBC Make It.


Solar energy project extending onto Edwards Air Force Base becomes Kern’s largest

A new solar energy project combining almost 2 million photovoltaic arrays with more than 120,000 batteries has become the largest installation of its kind in Kern County. The $2 billion Edwards Sanborn Solar and Energy Storage Project, 57 percent of which is located on the northwest corner of Edwards Air Force Base, began generating 807 megawatts of electricity late last year for clients including every Starbucks location in Southern California. A ribbon-cutting took place last week at the military base east of Rosamond.

When the project’s energy storage component comes fully online later this year, it will be capable of delivering 3,287 megawatt-hours for a total interconnection capacity of 1,300 megawatts, according to the project’s New York-based developer, Terra-Gen Inc. The project stands out as the biggest in a county known for its extensive solar-power assets. The second-largest, according to Director Lorelei Oviatt of the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department, is the battery-less Berkshire Hathaway Energy Solar Star straddling Kern and Los Angeles counties.

“Only in America, can we take barren land, embrace the power of the sun and create an engineering marvel,” Brig. Gen. William Kale, Air Force Civil Engineer Center commander, said in a news release. “So, take the time to reflect, see the great work that was done and understand the significance of this project and what it can lead to. Hopefully, this is just the spark.”

The military base will not receive power from the project, but it will benefit from added power-grid resiliency expected to reduce the area’s risk of blackouts of brownouts, said Vice President Simon Day, head of solar development for Terra-Gen.

The U.S. Air Force will also receive almost $76 million in lease revenue after signing in November 2018 what’s known as an enhanced-use lease covering 2,600 acres classified as under-utilized at the base. The project’s other 2,000 acres are situated on land owned by Terra-Gen north of the base.

Day said that, during the 35-year term of the lease, the project will pay $135 million in property taxes. That does not include $22 million in sales taxes paid to Kern County or $11 million in sales taxes paid to the state.

Not all of the 17 entities receiving energy from the project have been disclosed. But besides Starbucks, Day said, buyers include a well-known grocery store chain, the city of San Jose, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Clean Power Alliance, which provides renewable energy to customers in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Construction on the project employed 890 union workers paid wages totaling $315 million during a period of about two years, Day said. He noted that not one reportable safety incident took place during the more than 1 million construction hours involved.



6-27-23 Madera, CA Madera behavioral health center opens its doors – The Business Journal

River Vista Behavioral Health hosted a ribbon cutting for its new 128-bed behavioral health facility located at 40886 Goodwin Way, Madera, CA 93636.

In collaboration with Valley Children’s Healthcare, the 81,600 square feet, state-of-the-art facility has 128 behavioral health hospital beds, with 24 beds dedicated for children ages 5-17. The facility will also feature an indoor gymnasium and outdoor wellness courtyards for recreation.

Mental health needs in California have increased year over year with limited resources for those in need of extensive, inpatient care. The hope is that this center will help bridge that gap in the San Joaquin Valley.

River Vista Behavioral Health will offer behavioral health assessments 24 hours a day at no cost, and will provide inpatient psychiatric treatment for adults. Eventually, the facility will offer a full continuum of behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and older adults, including programs to meet the unique needs of the patient population.

Serving patients experiencing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, as well as schizophrenia and other behavioral health issues including co-occuring mental health and substance abuse.

The initial opening of the facility on June 26 will be limited to 10 beds until the facility receives accreditation by The Joint Commission. By the fall, the center will open up the beds for children.

New logistics development could be first in Bakersfield

Kern’s logistics boom is reaching into the city of Bakersfield with an industrial park proposed at the southwest corner of Mount Vernon Avenue and East Belle Terrace. With two of three buildings measuring more than 1 million square feet, the project is being marketed as having convenient access to a large workforce — and in that respect, at least, it may beat larger competitors in Shafter and the Mettler area.

“I would say that’s what makes this project advantageous,” said Director Scott Reynolds at Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property on behalf of an owner-developer partnership in Southern California. “It’s surrounded by working population.”

Named 58 Logistics Center because of its close access to Highway 58, the project may be the first of its kind located within Bakersfield’s borders. A similar project is underway near Meadows Field Airport, but it lies within unincorporated Kern County territory in Oildale. The 128-acre property is modest in size, compared with other, much larger logistics centers along 7th Standard Road in Shafter and Interstate 5 in the Mettler area. Another distinction is that the project is strictly build-to-suit, whereas others recently have moved forward with speculative construction — successfully — even before signing tenants.

Since kicking off marketing of the property a few months ago, Reynolds said brokers on the project have received “a lot of interest” from potential tenants, even as no leases have been signed. He noted distribution centers that otherwise would have been located in the Inland Empire have begun coming instead to Kern County, where prices are roughly half what’s being charged for industrial property in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The broker who assisted in the property’s November 2021 sale to its current owners, Jack Lees, said he received a lot of calls from potential buyers who wanted to “set up truck depots and that sort of stuff.” He called it a good location for such operations.

“That should be a good project for somebody,” he said.

Bakersfield City Councilman Eric Arias, whose Ward 1 encompasses the project, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. A marketing brochure put out Monday says the largest of three buildings proposed at the site would measure 1.1 million square feet and have 196 dock doors, 590 trailer stalls, parking for 510 automobiles and 40-foot clearance height.

Another building planned for the property would measure a little more than 1 million square feet, with 182 dock doors, 430 trailer stalls, 394 spaces for automobiles and 40-foot clearance, according to the brochure.

The third building, at 128,000 square feet at the property’s northeast corner, is planned to have 16 dock doors, 22 trailer stalls, 130 auto parking spaces and 36-foot clearance height. The entire property is zoned for general manufacturing and general industrial uses.

Cushman & Wakefield’s brochure points out the same kind of assets industrial properties have touted for years: convenient access to major transportation corridors and railroads, four hours from the Bay Area and the Mexican border, a “business friendly” permitting environment and relatively low taxes and labor costs. “58 Logistics Center,” the brochure states, “gives fulfillment (distribution and logistics) businesses efficient access to more consumers and end users than any other site in Southern California.”